1. Overview – Tibhar Akkad
At ISPO 2018, Tibhar announced one new blade. Differently from two fiber blades – ‘Kinetic Speed’ and ‘Nuytinck Hybrid ZC’ – those had already been announced before ISPO 2018, new one is a 7-ply wood blade. The name of new blade is ‘Akkad’ which is the name of the capital of ancient Akkadian empire in Mesopotamia. The cuneiform script which was use at ancient Mesopotamia is printed on the forehand surface of ‘Akkad’.
Tibhar already has two classic 7-ply wood blades in its blade range. Those two are ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ and ‘CCA 7’. The constructions of those two are similar to that of Stiga ‘Clipper’ which is the representative of classic 7-ply wood blade. ‘Thick three layers at the center of blade construction’, ‘Limba top layer’ and ‘thin middle layer under top layer’ are the feature of classic 7-ply wood construction, i.e. ‘Clipper’ type. But, the construction of new ‘Akkad’ is noticeably different from that of classic 7-ply wood construction. Especially its top layers doesn’t look like ‘Limba’ at all. It is a new wood that has never been used for table tennis blade. Although the name of the wood for top layer of ‘Akkad’ has not been announced yet, from its appearance we can easily expect that it is a kind of hard wood.
Under new hard wood at top layers, there are thin wood layers whose material looks like ‘Ayous’. And, under 2nd layers, there are also thin 3rd layers whose material also looks like ‘Ayous. And, 4th (= center) layer is thick. (This construction is fundamentally different from that of ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ or ‘CCA 7’ whose 3rd layer is as thick as 4th layer.) The wood for center layer looks like heat-treated Kiri. Overall thickness is about 6.3mm. (‘Akkad’ is much thinner than ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ or ‘CCA 7’.) The size of head is 157mm x 149mm which can be considered as regular size of modern table tennis blades.
Shakehand handle is available in two types – FL (flared) and ST (straight). FL handle is a bit wide, and is very comfortable in big hand. ST handle is squared like the ST handle of Butterfly ‘Timo Boll’ series although the dimension of handle is different from that of ‘Timo Boll’ series. Aluminum nameplates instead of transparent plastic lenses are placed at both sides of handle. There isn’t noticeable step between Aluminum plate and handle, and therefore the nameplate doesn’t disturb player’s finger. The quality of finishing is excellent.
Chinese penholder handle is also available. Its head is a bit longer than that of shake hand version.
Then let’s examine the mechanical characteristic of ‘Akkad’ by the comparison with some 7-ply wood blades. Six 7-ply wood blades have been selected for the comparison :
- Stiga ‘Ebenholz NCT VII’
- Donic ‘Ovcharov Senso V1’
- Nittaku ‘Barwell’
- Stiga ‘Clipper CR’
- Tibhar ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’
- Stiga ‘Clipper CC’
‘Ebenholz NCT VII’, ‘Ovcharov Senso V1’ and ‘Barwell’ are the 7-ply blades with hardwood top layers. And, ‘Clipper CR’, ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ and ‘Clipper CC’ are the 7-ply blades with classic construction. ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ is the representative 7-ply wood blade in Tibhar range, and therefore the comparison between this blade and ‘Akkad’ is very important.
Performance Indices will be used for the comparison. Concerning the detail of four performance indices, please refer to following articles in ‘Background’ section :
- Performance indices : the way to evaluate blade by measurement
- The example of comparison by performance indices
2. Lab Test (Comparison by Performance Indices)
Fig.06 shows the comparison graph of Elasticity Indices of ‘Akkad’ and six other 7-ply wood blades.
Ep (Primary Elasticity Index) is directly concerned with the rebound speed of blade. Ec (Central Elasticity Index) is concerned with additional ‘kick’ when player hits ball very hard. The Ep and the Ec of ‘Akkad’ are 1.72 and 1.69 respectively.
Before the comparison among Elasticity Indices of 7-ply wood blades, we can first examine the indices of ‘Akkad’ with those of some 5-ply wood blades. Please refer to former postings – ‘Stiga Arctic Wood & Celero Wood – Lab Test‘ and ‘Classic 5-ply wood blades – Comparison‘. The Ep of ‘Akkad’ (= 1.72) is one step higher value than the Ep’s of ordinary 5-ply wood blades. The Ec of ‘Akkad’ (= 1.69) is also noticeably higher value than the Ec’s of ordinary 5-ply wood blades. As a 7-ply wood blade, ‘Akkad’ is one step faster and gives noticeably greater kick than ordinary 5-ply wood blades. Quite high value of the Ec (= 1.69) may make the feeling of ‘Akkad’ than its actual hardness.
Among six other blades under comparison, ‘Ebenholz NCT VII’, ‘Ovcharov Senso V1’ and ‘Barwell’ are the 7-ply wood blades with ‘hard wood’ top layers. The other three – ‘Clipper CR’, ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ and ‘Clipper CC’ are orthodox 7-ply wood blades with classic construction.
When we just examine Ep, ‘Ebenholz NCT VII’ (Ep = 2.19) is the fastest one among three ‘hard wood’ blades, and ‘Ovcharov Senso V1’ (Ep = 1.91) is the second. ‘Ebenholz NCT VII’ is noticeably faster than ‘Akkad’. And, ‘Ovcharov Senso V1’ is also one step faster than ‘Akkad’. ‘Barwell’ (Ep = 1.46) is noticeably slower than ‘Akkad’. But, among hardwood blades, the difference of Ec is not significant. The Ec’s of three hardwood blades are quite close to that of ‘Akkad’. The Ec of ‘Ebenholz NCT VII’ (= 1.87) is much smaller than the Ec of that blade, and is not much different from that of ‘Akkad’ (= 1.69). The Ec of ‘Barwell’ (= 1.67) is very close to that of ‘Akkad’. And, the Ec of ‘Ovcharov Senso V1’ (= 1.58) is the smallest among the Ec’s of hardwood 7-ply blades.
Among three orthodox 7-ply wood blades with Limba top layer, ‘Clipper CR’ is the fastest. With Ep = 2.42, it is the fastest among all the blades in this comparison. And, the Ec of ‘Clipper CR’ (= 2.21) is also the highest in this comparison. ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ (Ep = 1.77, Ec = 1.60) and ‘Clipper CC’ (Ep = 1.77, Ec = 1.61) are close to ‘Akkad’. Those two are a bit faster than ‘Akkad’, and give a bit less additional kick than ‘Akkad’.
Examining Ec/Ep is also a easier way to understand the tendency of elasticity of blades. Fig.07 shows the relationship between Ec/Ep and Ep.
Ec/Ep expresses the ‘tendency’ of the elasticity of blade. By examining Ec/Ep and Ep at the same time, we can easily understand the behavior of blades.
On the graph, all blades except for ‘Barwell’ are in ‘Hold’ range (Ec/Ep < 1.0). But, we can also notice that ‘Akkad’ is not in the same group with any other blades in this comparison. The Ec/Ep of ‘Akkad’ is close to 1.0. It means that the response of ‘Akkad’ to impact input is linear. ‘Akkad’ doesn’t especially hold or kick the ball when player hits the ball very strongly. Player will always be able to predict the result very precisely because ‘Akkad’ always converts the impact input
Three orthodox 7-ply wood blades hold the ball deeper than ‘Akkad’. ‘Clipper CR’, ‘Clipper CC’ and ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ are placed on the border between ‘Mild Hold’ range and ‘Deep Hold’ range. Those three blades will meaningfully hold the ball when player hits the ball very strongly. And, two hardwood 7-ply blades – ‘Ebenholz NCT VII’ and ‘Ovcharov Senso V1’ – are placed in ‘Deep Hold’ range. It means that those two will hold the ball even deeper when player hits the ball very strongly. Therefore, those two are good for very aggressive topspin. Among three hardwood 7-ply blades, ‘Barwell’ is the one which is placed in ‘Kick’ range. ‘Barwell’ is also good for aggressive play. But, it is not ‘aggressive topspin’ but high-pitch attack with various skills including flat smash.
By the examination of Elasticity Indices, we can conclude that ‘Akkad’ provides sufficient elasticity and additional kick as a 7-ply wood blade, and provide very linear response to impact input. ‘Akkad’ will not provide more speed or deeper hold than expected. But, instead ‘Akkad’ will always to as player does, and it will make very precise control possible if player can be once accustomed to this characteristic.
Then successively, let’s compare Vibration Indices. Fig. 08 shows the comparison graph of Vibration Indices.
Vibration Indices are concerned with feeling. Vp indicates primary feeling which is transferred to player’s palm. And, Vl is the feeling at the wing of a blade. It is felt by player’s index finger or middle finger.
The Vp of ‘Akkad’ is 1.25. And, except the Vp of ‘Clipper CR’, the Vp’s of all blades in this comparison are in the range of 1.20 ~ 1.27. This range can be considered as the range of Vp of general 7-ply wood blades. ‘Clipper CR’ (Vp = 1.37) is an especially fast and hard 7-ply wood blade.
The Vl of ‘Akkad’ is 1.38. This is the highest value of Vl in this comparison. The Vl’s of two hardwood 7-ply blades – ‘Ebenholz NCT VII’ and ‘Ovcharov Senso V1’ – are close to this value. The Vl of ‘Ebenholz NCT VII’ is 1.31 and the Vl of ‘Ovcharov Senso V1’ is 1.36. The Vl of ‘Barwell’ is 1.23, and this is noticeably lower than the Vl’s of ‘Akkad’ and two other hardwood 7-ply blades. We can notice that the concept of ‘Barwell’ is different from the concept of the other hardwood 7-ply blades. The Vl’s of three orthodox 7-ply blades – ‘Clipper CR’, ‘Clipper CC’ and ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ – are 1.24 ~ 1.25.
Examining Vl/Vp is easier way for the comparison of the tendency of feeling. Fig.09 shows the relationship between Vl/Vp and Vp for easier comparison.
On the graph of Vl/Vp, all the blades except ‘Clipper CR’ are placed along vertical line near Vp = 1.25. Although the Vp of ‘Clipper CR’ is one step higher than those of the other blades, it doesn’t look that ‘Clipper CR’ is placed far from the vertical line near which the other 7-ply wood blades are placed.
‘Akkad’, ‘Ovcharov Senso V1’ and ‘Ebenholz NCT VII’ are placed at relatively high range. It means that those three blades give relatively sharper feeling at fingertip of index finger, or give relatively softer feel at palm. We may consider that this is the general characteristic of 7-ply wood blades with hardwood top layers. However, although it is also the 7-ply blade with hardwood top layer, ‘Barwell’ is not placed in ‘relatively sharper at fingertip’ range. It is placed in ‘relatively more comfortable at fingertip’ range. Further, because it is placed close to horizontal line of Vl/Vp = 1.00, ‘Barwell’ can be classified as ‘near uniform’. ‘Clipper CC’ and ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ are also close to horizontal line of Vl/Vp = 1.00. Those two can also be classified as ‘near uniform’. ‘Clipper CR’ and ‘Ovcharov Senso V1’ are also in ‘near uniform’ range. But, those two are not that close to ‘uniform’ line (Vl/Vp = 1.00).
By the examination of Vibration Indices, we can conclude that ‘Akkad’ is basically as hard as general 7-ply wood blades and gives relatively sharper feeling at the fingertip of index finger. Also, as we can expect from its hardwood top layer, the feeling of ‘Akkad’ is close to the feeling of some other hardwood 7-ply blades, although by the examination of Elasticity Indices we observed that its performance characteristic is not similar to other hardwood 7-ply blades.
Tibhar ‘Akkad’ is a new 7-ply wood blade with hardwood top layer. The wood for top layer of ‘Akkad’ is new hardwood that has never been used for table tennis blade. (The name of wood has not been announced yet.)
The characteristics of ‘Akkad’ can be summarized as follows :
- ‘Akkad’ provides sufficient elasticity as a 7-ply wood blade. Its elasticity is close to that of ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ although more detailed characteristic of those two blades are different from each other.
- When player hits ball very hard, ‘Akkad’ doesn’t especially hold deeper or kick more strongly than player expects. ‘Akkad’ responds almost exactly to player’s impact input. This ‘linear’ characteristic makes the control of ‘Akkad’ very precise.
- The basic feeling of ‘Akkad’ is as hard as that of general 7-ply wood blades. But, as we can expect from its hardwood top layer, ‘Akkad’ gives very sharp feeling at the fingertip of index finger.
‘Akkad’ is close to ‘linear’ in elasticity and is classified as ‘relatively sharper at finger’ in feeling, while ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ provides more ‘hold’ in elasticity and very close to ‘uniform’ in feeling. With that difference in characteristic, ‘Akkad’ will play a different role from ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ in the blade range of Tibhar. ‘Akkad’ will be better for the players who like linear response of blade for precise control of various technics, while ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ is for the players who like the feeling of holding ball for continuous topspin. If a player wants to raise up the speed of modern all-round play and if he/she doesn’t dislike hardwood top layer, ‘Akkad’ will be one of excellent solution. With ‘Akkad’ Tibhar will be able to cover wider range of the preference of players.
I found the position of the Barwell on the ec/ep vs ep chart fascinating. I hated the Barwell, despite loving the Yasaka Extra Special which has [essentially] the same construction, as does the Ovtcharov Senso v1. I still don’t know why the Barwell feels and plays like it does, given the materials used. Thanks to your research i know what to look out for when buying blades to avoid similar expensive mistakes. My favourite feeling blades all seems to be in the mild hold range [Clipper CR WRB is current blade of choice with Samsonov PFBE as backup] so i’d be very wary now of buying anything outside that range.
Thank you for comment. In fact, the same construction doesn’t mean the same characteristics. That is because of the difference of factory. Every wood factory has its own way of making plywood, and as a result every factory makes its unique blade although the same construction is given. There is slight difference of wood although the name of wood is identical. There is difference of the way of using glue or the glue itself. There is difference of pressing. There is difference of drying. And so on …….